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SimplyMarvie

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  • Content Count

    268
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About SimplyMarvie

  • Rank
    Cool Cruiser

About Me

  • Location
    All Over
  • Interests
    While cruising: Food, photography, non-cruiseline excursions, sitting in a lounge chair and reading
  • Favorite Cruise Line(s)
    I approach cruiselines like pokemon -- gotta try 'em all.
  • Favorite Cruise Destination Or Port of Call
    Caribbean and the Med. One day I'm gonna get to Pitcarin Island, though...

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  1. Honeymooned on the Noordam in 2002 in the Mediterranean. HAL couldn't find us a room where the beds pushed together, so we ended up sleeping in twins for most of our honeymoon. In exchange, we were invited to dinner at the Captain's table on a day when the ship was at an enormous list due to wind; definitely a memorable experience. I had a broken ankle the whole time -- broke it 4 days before the wedding -- and was in a walking boot, so I was swaying forward to back while the ship was swaying side to side, and got super-dizzy; my new husband ended up carrying me around for much of the cruise.
  2. Caesarea is such a special place -- we were lucky enough to do a lantern-light tour with an archeologist when we were there (it'd be a tough one to do on a cruise ship, but maybe if you're overnighting in Haifa and have already done Jerusalem...?) that was definitely a highlight of my traveling life.
  3. Would their phones even work in Alaska? I guess we're spoiled since we're coming from overseas, but I just don't get my son a SIM card when we're traveling and don't get a wifi package. He can use his phone when there's free wifi, but apart from that he has to talk to humans.
  4. My "better way" has been to hire a travel agent. Not sure that's the solution you're looking for... but it's been really nice to farm watching for price drops, etc. off to someone else and she can usually give us a good sense of the total all-in price. As far as choosing a cruise, while we're price-conscious we're ultimately in it for the port stops over all so I'm mostly focusing on the best value rather than cheapest bottom line. (We don't live anywhere close to a cruise port, and don't have flexible schedules, so the whole "Hey, this is $XXX and we've got some time, let's jump on!"
  5. We're just back from the Serenade of the Seas, and knowing that there had been some questions/comments about snorkeling in Aruba, wanted to share out experience. To put the bottom line upfront: If you're not a very strong and experienced swimmer in open water, I would not do a snorkeling excursion in Aruba. We did a cruise-ship excursion to Boca Catalina and to the Wreck of the Antilla. Everything was really well organized, and the crew who ran the excursion clearly knew what they were doing and took safety into account when making plans. Everyone wore a snorkeling ve
  6. We got barbecue and went to the movies, which wasn't exactly exotic, but was definitely what locals were doing. (We also live overseas and so the ability to see a kids movie not dubbed into Hebrew was exciting to us. As was eating pulled pork... 🙂 )
  7. Just FYI -- there is NO ATM in the port area, despite there being a whole mess of shopping there. No idea why this is, but make sure you have cash (USD is fine) before you get off your ship, because trying to convince your taxi driver to take you to an ATM and then to the old city is difficult and raises the price significantly. (We ended up walking back to the ship and getting cash, because that was easier overall)
  8. We're back from our cruise and did the San Lorenzo excursion with the locks. San Lorenzo was lovely, and the locks were cool but I kind of wish that we'd taken the ride to the locks on the other side at Miraflores locks, which have a lot more interactive stuff for kids. Not a hundred percent sure that it would have been worth missing the pirate fort which was pretty cool. 🙂
  9. We're just off the Serenade, where several of their head chefs are from India and the Indian food was definitely one of the best parts of the buffet. It was all very standard North Indian Punjabi restaurant-style food, but it was at least as good as you'd get in a well-reviewed Indian restaurant in the US or the UK. We had Muttar Paneer, Aloo Gobi, Katchadi for breakfast a couple of times, Chana Masala, butter chicken, Rogan Josh, and a few other things I'm sure I don't remember. They had a couple of pickle options and riata available as well. Coming from Israel, where it's almost
  10. Thanks, everyone! Reporting back post-cruise, I would have been totally comfortable in the long dress but was also totally comfortable in a nice pair of trousers and a sparkly sweater. It's definitely a "you do you" kind of atmosphere... 🙂
  11. As folks have said, Yellow Fever is only required if you're coming from a country with endemic yellow fever. It is, in my humble opinion, the absolute worst vaccine to get -- especially since it's needed every ten years. I need to re-up mine for work and I'm waiting for a weekend where we've got nothing planned and I can lay about and hallucinate mildly while feeling like I've got a nasty case of the flu for 36 hours afterward. So not one to get if it's not necessary, and probably not one to get on your way out the door, although your mileage with it may vary.
  12. We do lanyards. Partially because our kids are too little for wallets and pants pockets and all that, partially because it's an easy way to fly our geek flags and give people a new way to meet us and strike up conversation with anyone who is our "tribe". We've got Stark Industries, Darkhorse Comics, various Harry Potter houses, and a a couple Star Wars ones hanging around the house, so we're well supplied already -- I keep the boring metal/black fabric ones for my work badge. 🙂
  13. We don't sail until the week after next (!!) but we ended up booking an independent excursion through Viator rather than this cruise ship excursion. I read some more reviews, and they weren't reassuring -- apparently the Portabello site is very muddy and far out and there isn't much to see there. We chose a smaller excursion that does the locks, a short rainforest tour and then the San Lorenzo fort, which is closer in and less likely to be a fetid swamp of muck and mosquitos. I'll report back and let you know how it goes! 🙂
  14. I have a buckwheat husk neck pillow that has changed my life. It seems really decadent with my usual militant packing light self, but between holiday gifts and snorkel gear we're pretty far from that anyway...
  15. We've done one that we loved -- a small-group snorkeling trip in Cozumel. But we only did that one because it was comparable in price to a private operator and our desires were pretty moderate; we wanted to see fish and drink tequila sunrises. And lo and behold, we did! Generally, private tours are cheaper and easier than cruise line tours, and much more enjoyable. But by far our best days cruising have been when we got out completely on our own -- either with a rental car, or public transportation -- and explored.
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